puppy mill awareness
In a stunning setback in their efforts to increase enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), USDA has suddenly reversed course and decided to, once again, tolerate substandard conditions at puppy mills. Dr. Chester Gipson, USDA’s chief of enforcement for the AWA, recently told animal advocates that the USDA needs “to enable breeders to sell their dogs to pet stores” and citing violations is an impediment to such sales.
In the past few years, many municipalities have enacted ordinances restricting pet stores to only purchasing puppies from breeders with no violations on their federal inspection reports. These ordinances are intended to protect consumers from buying dogs from substandard puppy mills.
Shockingly, USDA has made the decision to help substandard breeders circumvent these ordinances and to continue to sell puppies in spite of continuing violations. USDA has recently instructed their inspectors not to cite breeders for “minor” violations as such documentation is making it more difficult for breeders to sell their puppies. When questioned as to their definition of “minor,” or as to how many minor violations of the Animal Welfare Act will be ignored per facility, and for how long such violations will be tolerated, USDA responded that it will be left up to the individual inspector and admitted that no guidance has been provided for the inspectors.
At a recent meeting of dog breeders, USDA officials told breeders that, “if at any time a violation has the potential of affecting your business, please call our office immediately and let us know,” emphasizing that USDA stands ready to enable breeders to market their dogs to pet stores.
In an effort to further aide substandard dog breeders, USDA has hired a long-time puppy mill lobbyist and advocate, Julian Prager, to be its “Canine Advisor.” Mr. Prager’s duties will include assisting in the training of USDA inspectors. Ironically, Mr. Prager has consistently opposed all laws regulating puppy mills and vigorously opposed Pennsylvania’s new puppy mill law, and most recently, fought against implementation of USDA’s new regulations on puppy mills selling over the Internet. Mr. Prager also opposed a law to prevent puppy mill operators from performing surgeries such as C-sections and debarking on their own dogs. Julian Prager seated with AKC lobbyists. This year the AKC allocated $10,000 to oppose Missouri’s new puppy mill regulations. Yet, this is the individual that USDA has hired to assist in the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the law which regulates the same industry that Mr. Prager has served to promote and protect for several decades.
Please contact the Secretary of Agriculture and remind him that the AWA stands for the Animal Welfare Act and not the Dog Breeders Welfare Act. USDA’s sole focus, as mandated by Congress, should be on the welfare of the dogs and not the welfare of the substandard breeders’ businesses regardless of how the neglect of their animals is hurting them financially.
Contact Secretary Tom Vilsack at [email protected], leave a message at (202) 720-3631 or write him at:
Secretary Tom Vilsack
U. S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Below is an example of what to write in either email or snail mail correspondence to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack:
It has come to my attention, through a social media campaign, “Accountability
Now”, USDA inspectors are incorrectly issuing violations for commercial dog
breeders. USDA inspection reports show breeding dogs clearly suffering, and in
pain, and inspectors issuing indirect violations.
These breeding dogs need USDA inspectors to do their job correctly and enforce
the Animal Welfare Act.
The issue of incorrect reporting of violations was addressed in in the OIG 2010
report and a corrective plan put in place. Today this corrective
plan is clearly not effective.
The USDA’s 2015 Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan does not contain the
words dog, breeding, kennel or canine once in relation to the AWA, which only
appears four times in the 127-page document. Where do the commercial breeding
Advocates for breeding dogs across the country are becoming aware of this
monumental problem with USDA inspections and are calling on you, the Deputy
Administrator for Animal Care USDA APHIS to make the changes needed to protect
breeding dogs to the fullest extent the Animal Welfare Act allows.
In a unique twist to the very serious issue of puppy mills in the United States, two puppy mill survivors, Harley and Teddy, will hit the road this week with a team from National Mill Dog Rescue to rescue puppy mill dogs. DOGS SAVING DOGS!
PRLog – Jul. 27, 2014 – COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Dogs Saving Dogs! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s two tiny Chihuahuas saving dogs from puppy mills again! Two puppy mill survivor superheroes, Harley and Teddy, will head out into the Midwest July 29th on yet another on their ‘Harley to the Rescue’ missions to save more than 60 puppy mill dogs with National Mill Dog Rescue.
Harley, a 13 year old Chihuahua and an iconic figure in the world of puppy mill awareness through social media, spent 10 years as a commercial breeder in a puppy mill. His one-eyed, grizzled image is immediately recognizable, due primarily to the fact he lost an eye being power washed at the puppy mill. Although suffering with congestive heart failure, he actively uses his Facebook page with 52,000+ followers to spread awareness about the cruel realities of puppy mills and raise funds for non-profit rescue groups.
Teddy is Harley’s sidekick and ‘Team Driver’. He uses his page with 20,000+ followers to spread puppy mill awareness and share his experiences of learning about life outside the cage. .
‘Harley to the Rescue’ started out as a campaign to raise the $2,500 needed to fund one rescue of approximately 25-30 dogs. Now they’re on the road to rescue more! To date, these two dogs have raised over $200,000 to rescue 364 dogs from the horrific conditions in puppy mills.
Through their social media outlets, they chronicle their journey into the world of puppy mills, all from the perspective of puppy mill survivors. Dogs Saving Dogs! Follow the mission of these ‘caped crusaders’ and support their cause!
To learn more: https://www.youcaring.com/harleytotherescue4
National Mill Dog Rescue is a Colorado Springs based 501(c)(3) organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes discarded commercial breeding dogs from puppy mills. NMDR relies on volunteers to care for the dogs, from the moment they are surrendered to the time they are adopted and beyond. The organization depends on the generosity of the public to provide the high level of care for our dogs and to continue to be able to save them.
National Mill Dog Rescue started with a single sentence in an e-mail that Theresa Strader received: “50 Italian Greyhounds in need.” A large-scale breeding operation, or ‘puppy mill’ was going out of business and all 561 dogs were going to auction. One of those dogs was a seven-year-old Italian Greyhound named Lily. The moment their eyes met through the wire of Lily’s tiny cage, Theresa knew her life had changed forever and that this new life would include Lily and a mission to bring about lasting change.
In honor of Lily, National Mill Dog Rescue was established in February 2007 to give a voice to mill dogs across the country. Since then, NMDR has rescued more than 9,100 puppy mill survivors, all while maintaining a strict no-kill policy. Every single dog that comes through the doors is spayed or neutered and given whatever additional medical care they need – without exception. They are groomed, many of them for the very first time. Years of filth and matted fur are removed, allowing the beautiful dog underneath to shine. Soon they learn about all the simple pleasures that they had never previously known – clean water, toys and treats, a soft bed, and most importantly, the love of a human companion.
NMDR Website: http://milldogrescue.org
As an advocate of puppy mill awareness, it breaks my heart every time I drive by a pet shop. How could these owners be so cruel? So ignorant? It takes so much self restraint to not just march right in there and give them a piece of my mind…
But – as with so many things, sometimes you can catch more flies with honey. Next time you drive or walk by a pet shop and feel the need to offer a piece of your mind, try this:
Ask the clerk/owner where their puppies come from? How often they get new puppies? If they allow those who purchase these puppies to contact the breeders?
More often than not the responses will be vague and guarded.
Continue to let them know you, as a dog lover, only shop at pet stores that hold adoption drives instead of selling puppies. And you would be thrilled to see them change their practice to hold adoption drives instead.
Here are some benefits you can cite:
- Increased name recognition for the store
- Consumer loyalty
- Financial support through new customers and repeat visitors
- Stronger community ties thanks to your partnership with the local animal shelter(s)
The Humane Society also offers FREE listings to Puppy Friendly Pet Stores on their website, along with a free listing in their phone app so shoppers can find them anywhere. Did you know you can text “PUPPY” to 30644 to see puppy-friendly stores near you? Click here for more info and resources from the HSUS, including a printable “pledge” you can take into these stores.
This may seem like a such a small action, but imagine if each day someone took the time to stop in these pet stores and have this “talk. Imagine if each time a family was there, looking at puppies to purchase, and overheard your conversation. Sometimes, as an individual, we can feel powerless in this fight. But your voice – when combined with legislation, legal actions, rescues, and other efforts – does make a difference. It takes a lot of steps to walk a mile.
Click here to join me in supporting National Mill Dog Rescue as they rescue, rehabilitate and rehome discarded puppy mill breeding dogs.